Friday, February 25, 2011

Spring is in the Air

Today started out cloudy and windy.  The forecast included a tornado watch.  Late afternoon grew dark just before the cloudburst.  Then the skies became a clear blue with the sunshine streaming through.  Ah, Spring is well on its way!  My thoughts were, "Let it rain!"  I could almost envision the rain rejuvenating the grass and plants outside.  The advent of Spring is revealing all kinds of treasures around our new home at the Speech House.  A few weeks ago, masses of Papewhites appeared, now the daffodils are beginning to bloom, and I am pretty sure I have spied at least two dozen Amaryllis (at least, I think that is what those strong flat leaves poking up out of the soil will become).  I stopped by Lowe's and picked up a few tulips to add to the bed under the tulip tree.  No wonder my thoughts of lesson plans are turning to Springtime themes. I perused my Spring Books to try to decide what to use this year with my clients. There are so many fun themes to choose from.

Gardening Themes:  Spring is a time of renewal for all things green, is a great time to discuss plants and growth cycles.  One of the things that can be done is to plant a garden (My First Garden):  Now that we are in our Speech House, I am seriously considering making a full fledged "mini" garden.  I have already been asked, "And why would you want to do that?" (translation: "Wouldn't that be a lot of extra work you already don't have time for?" To which the answer would be, "yes!")  It seems like a fun idea and a good excuse to take some therapy sessions outdoors. Although I am unsure if I will tackle this project this year, here are some of my thoughts on goals and objectives:

1.  Sensory:  sunshine, dirt, water, smells, and after things grow, taste and texture (feeding issues).   The kids could get dirty scratching around the soil, planting seeds, watering them, and eating the product of their labor. 
2. Vocabulary:  Plenty of opportunities to learn new words from pre-k to teens:  parts of plants, fruits, vegetables, gardening tools, science from germination to photosynthesis, weather, ...
3.  Language & Verbal Expression: My philosopy is that experiential learning is the best kind:  Requesting, discussing, describing, instructing, sequencing.... Use children's literature for whole language learning experiences.

Of course, there are other fun plant activities that do not require making your own garden (easier too):
  • Planting seeds in a cup and watching them grow.
  • Using an egg carton and planting grass seed into an eggshell (combines Spring and Easter).  Crack the top 1/4 to 1/3 off of an egg, remove egg, fill with soil, plant seed, draw on a face, the seed grow to be "hair" and the kids can then give it a haircut.
  • Place a wet napkin or paper towel in a plastic baggie.  Drop in a bean.  Tape to a sunny window.  As the bean sprouts, the clear bag allows the forming of roots and shoots to be observed.  Dampen the paper towel as needed.  Can transplant to a cup or pot later.
Other plant themed activies:
  • Make a picture with various seeds/beans.
  • Make flowers with construction paper or tissue paper:  create a construction paper flower or vegetable garden on one wall of the room.
  • Make prints with cut up potatoes, apples, etc.
 Many thanks to for finding these virtual links:
Literature Links:  Check out these book links to find plenty of resources for fun lessons and activities.

The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle
Muncha! Muncha! Muncha! by Candace Fleming
Mortimer's First Garden by Karma Wilson
Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert
Dandelion Adventures by Patricia Kite

Weather:  Little Cloud by Eric Carle:  This is a great unit for this time of year when weather is changing dramatically from cold to warmer, from windy and rain to bluer skies and fair weather, making cloud watching an interesting experience.  Summertime is also a good time to use this book when there are warm lazy days, although where I live it gets really hot very quickly and the bright summer sun can make cloud watching more difficult (sun shades required).  There are some wonderful links to this unit on my Facebook page.  I have bookmarked a number of online sites with great photos of clouds so the children can work on stretching their imaginations to see cloud shapes.  This is particulary good for the child on the Autism spectrum or who tends to be a more concrete thinker.  There is also one resource that actually fills in line drawing around a cloud shape when scrolled over to assist those who simply cannot perform this task.  I borrowed from that idea by printing out several awesome cloud shapes, inserted them in clear plastic page protector, and outlined the shape with a sharpie marker.  I show the picture to the child and give him the opportunity to figure it out on his own.  If he cannot, I place the sleeve over the photo to assist him.  Lots of fun. The most interesting effect is that once the cloud is shown in outline, you can remove the line drawing and the brain recognizes the image on its own. 

Once I cut large cloud shapes out of poster board and glued batting over them and hung them around the office.  This way the kids could play the cloud shapes game while waiting for their session.  Another related ativity is on one of the Caillou computer games which has a cloud shapes game on the disk. 

Craft activties abound:
Tear out shapes from white paper and glue to a blue backround.
Paint white clouds on blue.  Can even inkblot them by folding the paper.
Cotton ball or batting clouds.
Sponge painted clouds
Clouds with raindrops dangling down
Eric Carle inspired:  Paint some paper with a mixture of color and texture and cut our cloud shapes.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Waiting for Wings by Lois Ehlert
Watch Me Grow Butterfly a DK book
Are You My Mother?  by P.D. Eastman
Quick as a Cricket by Audrey Wood
Old Bear by Kevin Henkes

The quintessential bug of Spring is the caterpillar!  So many great books and lessons about caterpillars and butterflies.  There are TONS of online crafts and activities; you only have to Google a few moments to glean more than enough.  Click my book link for a few I found.  Likewise, the butterfly books abound.  Choose your favorites.  One great activity is to get one of those butterfly net/hatcheries and order some painted lady butterflies.  So great to watch them grow and become butterflies.

Baby birds, baby animals.... Spring is the time of newborns! Any baby animal books are sure to be a hit.

Crickets and other bugs:  These can go with Spring or with Summer.  On second thought, I might save crickets for the lazy summer nights.

If you like this blog, check back as I will be adding more Spring ideas as I come upon them.  Instead of writing a lot of blogs, I like to compile resources as much as possible.  It helps me find things when I need them!

No comments: